Critics have branded the decision to maintain aid payments “absurd”, with a number of political figures calling for a cease of all aid to the hermit state until Kim Jong-un stops threatening the international community.
In 2015, £740,000 of taxpayers money was given to various aid projects in North Korea, according to official figures – a 167 per cent increase on the year before.
In the past six years, figures show an astonishing £4 million has been sent from the UK, in hopes of boosting western values and improving relations with the pariah state – although there has been little evidence of any impact it may have had.
North Korea's recent threats have led to calls to withdraw international aid
Former Tory defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth said: “It is completely absurd to be giving aid to North Korea at this time.
“There are some very poor people there because of the regime’s actions, but the country is a communist basket case.
“They are trying to build a nuclear missile to hit the United States, they are destabilising the entire region. Why on earth are we giving them aid?"
Inside North Korea: The pictures Kim Jong-un doesn't want you to see Wed, April 12, 2017
Photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi 1 of 69
Taking pictures in the DMZ is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
Meanwhile, Ukip donor Arron Banks said spending money on aid projects in North Korea is “beyond ridiculous”.
“While we funnel money into this failing state, they are spending most of their own resources developing nuclear weapons designed to wipe us off the map.
“What’s next? Giving foreign aid to Islamic State?”
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The foreign aid is aimed at alleviating problems some of the country's poorest citizens face
Donations to overseas aid projects have increased rapidly in recent years and Cabinet ministers are reportedly calling on Theresa May to reduce the Government’s foreign aid spending and use the funds to boost Britain’s defence budget.
Britain’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of the national income on foreign aid has drawn criticism from some MPs, who want to see more of the international development budget redirected to the defence and security sectors.
The aid programme is also potentially embarrassing for Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who has warned the despotic regime it ‘must stop these belligerent acts and comply with UN resolutions’ after a failed missile test over the weekend.
North Korea upped the ante again yesterday in its stand-off with the West, telling the United Nations that ‘nuclear war may break out at any moment’.
Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the defence select committee, said: “I would be delighted if this is the first indication that we might see three per cent spending on defence. As recently as 1996, the year before Tony Blair became Prime Minister, three per cent was the defence spend, so it is a perfectly reasonable suggestion.
“What might happen is that the foreign aid budget would fall and some of that would be released to the defence budget.
“We are overspending on aid anyway, so there ought to be reductions. We keep hearing stories about desperate bureaucrats trying to find ways of spending a fixed sum of money they are obliged to dispose of.”
Ukip donor is among the critics of Britain's vast foreign aid budget
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office has defended spending on aid projects in North Korea.
A spokesman said: “The projects we carry out in North Korea are part of our policy of critical engagement, and are used to promote British values and demonstrate to the North Korean people that engaging with the UK and the outside world is an opportunity rather than a threat.
“We conduct a range of small-scale project work, many of which help to improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.”